Cheltenham Festival News

He's back! Goshen 5-1 for Champion Hurdle after facile Kingwell Hurdle victory

Sat 20 Feb 2021

By Graham Clark

Goshen returned to form in style at Wincanton on Saturday (Pic: Focusonracing)
Goshen returned to form in style at Wincanton on Saturday (Pic: Focusonracing)

Goshen thrust himself back into the Unibet Champion Hurdle picture at next month’s Cheltenham Festival by running out an impressive winner of the Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton as trainer Gary Moore declared: “You can’t believe how happy I am!”

The five-year-old barely moved out of second gear in the Grade Two contest to claim his first success of the campaign and gave the impression there is plenty more to come.

Since unseating Jamie Moore at the last when well clear in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at last year’s Festival, little had gone right for the Authorized gelding in two starts on the Flat and when failing to beat a rival in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

However, poised to make his move throughout the two-mile prize, Goshen (100/30) swiftly passed early pacesetter Navajo Pass turning in before skipping clear over the final two hurdles to defeat last year’s winner and the 11-10 favourite Song For Someone by 22 lengths.

Watch a full replay of Goshen's impressive victory

Gary Moore, speaking away from the track, said: “You can’t believe how pleased I am! They were probably going fast enough and Jamie just had to sit on him.

“I was a little bit concerned as it’s a sharp two mile around there and I think he probably wants a stiff two but I’m just over the moon as it looks like he is back.

“All I wanted was for him to get over the last as it is job done sort of thing. I think it was a freak accident (Triumph Hurdle fall) and I hope I never see it again. You couldn’t make it up.

“I’ve done a few different things that anybody would have done to get the best out of a horse. There is nothing really interesting but it looks like it might have helped. I’ve ridden him out a bit so he is used to carrying a lot of weight!”

Following the race Goshen was cut from 20-1 by bookmakers into a general 5-1 for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, which Moore hopes will be his next port of call.

Asked if it was all systems go for the championship race on Day One of The Festival, he replied: “I certainly hope so. Let’s see how he comes back in the morning. I’ve not spoken to Jamie yet and Steve (Packham, owner) who plays a massive part.

“He has been absolutely fantastic ever since Cheltenham. If he comes out of it all well tomorrow morning and has a good run up to Cheltenham he will go to Cheltenham.

“That’s what I hope (to put the Triumph Hurdle fall behind him). It’s not going to be easy, obviously now he doesn’t have to make the running, if something wants to lead him they can lead him. I was very pleased with the way Jamie rode him as he used his head.

“People don’t know how much that meant to me. I know it’s not the Champion Hurdle but it meant a lot. To see the horse back and hopefully that can give Jamie some compensation to what has gone on in his life recently.

“He is entitled to take his chance now on what he has done today. He has got to take a step forward as I’ve not taken him anywhere or anything - he has done it all at home. He is a clear winded horse but surely he must improve fitness wise as there is nothing like a run.”

Jamie Moore reflects on Goshen's 22-length success

Winning rider, son Jamie, praised his dad for reviving Goshen’s career.

He said: “I’m happy. Whether he is still the same horse I don’t know, but he has done well today. This horse has done the most unorthodox training methods for this but dad is a proper horseman. The things he has been doing with him have been bemusing me but it has worked.

“He knew on Tuesday morning he had him back following his last piece of work. Early doors I wasn’t entirely happy with him as the ground is pretty tacky. Once I got the rails this side where it was the best of the ground that’s where I got my best feel off him.

“He has beaten horses today he hasn’t beaten before. Song For Someone is a good yardstick but I was getting weight off them.”

Since it was first staged in 1971, the Kingwell Hurdle has proved a good trial for the Champion Hurdle with the winner going on to success at Cheltenham in the same season on seven occasions: Bula (1971, 1972), Lanzarote (1974), Kribensis (1990), Alderbrook (1995), Hors La Loi III (2002) and Katchit (2008).

Reflecting on the performance of Song For Someone, his trainer Tom Symonds has not ruled out the six year old from having a rematch with Goshen at The Festival, though hinted a step up to two and a half miles in the Aintree Hurdle could be the target.

He said: “Aidan (Coleman) said it was a bit like Cheltenham. He was never really happy with his position and here it looked like he couldn’t hold his position early on.

“It’s disappointing but I’m thrilled to see Goshen back. The ground is hard work to him and he was giving weight to him and they are not that far off ratings. I’m disappointed but it wasn’t meant to be on this track.

“He stuck on at the end but Aidan is not convinced he wants it as deep as this. It probably would (tempt me to go to Aintree). We’d like to find some better ground as Aidan just said his jumping is not as slick on this ground.

“I do think he is better than that. He has bumped into a horse that has returned to form. I wouldn’t rule Cheltenham out yet though.”

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